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12 Workplace Trends for 2020/2021: New Predictions & What Lies Beyond?

Category: B2B News

The modern workplace is constantly evolving. With it, the way we hire and retain top talent is facing a slew of era-defining changes. Besides, the work environment is under siege by economic changes, technological developments, automation, and globalization. To keep up with these changes, business leaders must rise to the occasion and show a deep understanding of the latest workplace trends.

In this article, we’ll discuss the modern workplace trends to help you understand the initiatives that are shifting the workplace. We’ll deliver insights that will empower you to redefine your workplace ethos and create a positive, flexible, and collaborative culture tailored to the needs of the modern worker.

key workplace trends

The Importance of Healthy Workplace

When it comes to employee performance and productivity, workplace environment tips the scale. Creating a healthy work environment can be a game-changer in myriad ways. One, it curtails all the costs related to turnover, absenteeism, medical cover, and employee compensation. If not addressed properly, some of these costs can leave your business on its knees. For example, the total cost of employee absenteeism accounts for up to 36% of the base payroll[1].

Second, a good workplace environment boosts employee happiness, morale, and motivation. Consequently, employees get tuned to their work and perform to the best of their abilities to deliver the desired results. What you should know is that a healthy workplace is extremely decisive to the overall success of your business. In fact, when the workplace environment is conducive, employees become highly engaged and, in return, deliver 21% greater profitability[2], 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings.

Benefits of Highly Engaged Employees

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Source: AON (2018)

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The benefits of building a healthy work environment are as clear as day. However, creating and managing a workplace that all employees will love is a daunting task because of the constantly changing dynamics of work. As a result, you need to remain abreast of the modern workplace trends for positive change to come your way.

Here are some workplace trends you should keep an eye on:

1. Gen Z entering the modern workforce

Over the years, we’ve had numerous era-defining demographic shifts. We’ve smoothly transitioned from baby boomers to Gen x to Millennials with minimal fuzz. There is no denying each of these generations has had its unique approaches to the workplace. Besides, the generations showed relatable work habits and attitudes; hence, it was easy for employers to adjust to suit their demands.

Now, there is a new cohort entering the fold.

Gen Z is the newest entrant in the modern workforce, and this generation is approaching things differently. Born between 1997 and early 2010, the oldest member of this group is 23 years old. It’s predicted that by 2020, Gen Z will account for up to 36% of the global workforce[3].

The main idiosyncrasies of this generation are nothing similar to what we’ve seen in the previous groups. Gen Zs are technology mavens, born and raised entirely in a fastpaced and internet-centric environment. The peculiarities of Gen Zers make them such a difficult group to deal with. For example, since Gen Zs are digital natives, they expect the modern workplace to be teeming with digital collaboration software tools. They also tend to be pragmatic in the way they approach their careers as well as education.

This is only the start, and we expect Gen Z to take over the global workforce in the coming years. Because of this, small businesses need to explore the mindsets and skills that this generation brings to the table. It’s time to adjust common office practices, as well as training, to get the most out of the new generation.

workplace trends 1

Key Generation Z Trend Takeaways

  • Managing a Gen Z workforce is not easy. You need to embrace the modern workforce transformation and provide the software needed by this group to thrive.
  • Listening to the ideas of Gen Z will aid the transition of this group into your workforce.
  • Besides, understanding their peculiarities will help integrate Gen Z into your workforce more quickly and efficiently.
  • Its time to adjust office practices, strategies, and training to the demands of Gen Z.

2. Remote work the new catchword

It’s 2019, and already the dominance of traditional office-centric working is under serious threat by remote working. The substantial advancement of multiple facets of workplace technology has given remote work an upper hand. Besides, the rise of new generations is impelling firms to redefine the modalities of work, and the odds are clearly in favor of remote working.

Moreover, the adoption of robust time management, communication software, and employee productivity software tools points to a burgeoning prominence of remote work. There is also a shift in the perception of employees towards remote working. Apparently, modern employees love the newfound freedom and flexibility that comes with remote working.

Besides, working remotely allows both the professional and personal aspects to coexists harmoniously. For example, today’s mothers can tend to their parental duties and handle professional roles in the comfort of their homes. With these benefits in mind, it’s no surprise then that 90% of remote workers plan to work remotely for the rest of their careers[4].

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The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Flexible schedule: 43%

Flexible schedule

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Spend time with family: 15%

Spend time with family

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Ability to travel: 12%

Ability to travel

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Work environment: 11%

Work environment

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Work from home: 9%

Work from home

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Avoid office politics: 4%

Avoid office politics

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Exercise regularly: 3%

Exercise regularly

The Biggest Benefits to Working Remotely
Other: 3%



Source: Buffer (State of Remote Work 2018)

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The nature of remote work is rapidly morphing, propelled by the entry of digital nomads and the proliferation of workforce innovations. Remote work will become more prevalent as the global workforce transitions to the new norm. While this trend is still in its novelty phase, its future is mesmerizing to behold. In fact, one study found that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028[5].

Key Remote Work Takeaways

  • There is an increased adoption of communication software like Skype, Slack, and Zoom.
  • Remote work is on an upward trend, and businesses should build agile work structures to support this new trend.
  • Remote work is beneficial to both the employer and employee.

3. Innate liking for flexible work schedules

The 9-to-5 work schedule has for long been second nature for the working class. However, with modern employees gravitating towards the ability to work anywhere, anytime, this schedule is facing extinction. Besides, the lives of employees have become busier and the work environment has become global.

These changes, coupled with the disruptive forces of technology, point to a tilting landscape. In fact, today, workers have developed an innate liking for a more flexible work schedule. And there are many reasons to believe the change of work schedule is long overdue. For example, 71% of workers say rigid work schedules impact their personal life negatively[6].

The liking for palatable work schedules is so deep that some employees say they would rather have a flexible schedule than healthcare coverage. One firm in New Zealand sought to examine the suitability of a 4-day workweek. After two months of trial, the company found that with such a schedule employee work-life balanced increased by 24%, engagement rose by 20%, and stress levels dropped by 7%[7].

The study seemed to have given employees a glimmer of hope. Today, many companies have followed suit, and we see the introduction of flexible work schedules. For example, eBay has introduced the eBay@Home program for customer service representatives[8]. Besides, agencies have risen to the occasion too. The UK labor union is advocating for a 4-day workweek. On the other hand, the Japanese government is giving employees Monday morning offs via the “Shining Monday” initiative[9].

workplace trends 2

Key Flexible Work Schedule Trend Takeaways

  • Employees want more pliable work schedules.
  • Flexible work schedules increase employee engagement, enhance work-life balance, and reduce employee stress levels.
  • Businesses should keep an eye on workplace design trends and explore ways to make their work schedules more palatable.

4. Need for centralized communication

Business communication has come a long way. Just a few decades ago, it was hard to envisage life without email and phones, but that’s not the case today. Technology has given birth to many innovations that have revolutionized business communication. Instant messaging, chat apps, and social media have swooped in, making communication fast and efficient. Besides, the market has a plethora of reliable video conference software for remote teams.

However, all is not well. There is no denying technology has driven business communication in the right direction with budding innovations. But let’s face it: while we all celebrate the innovations, apparently, each comes with a set of potential challenges. For example, instant messaging boost efficiency by 22%[10], but it also puts employees under immense pressure to answer messages constantly.  In fact, business communication software tools evolve in response to solve challenges caused by prior innovations.

Besides, the proliferation of business communication software tools has brought about communication overload. Our inboxes are overflowing with numerous threads of unending conversations. This has given rise to the need for more streamlined and centralized communication tools. Businesses are in search of solutions that consolidate vital communication and tie conversations around the ultimate organization goal.

Key Centralized Communication Trend Takeaway

  • Business communications tools are beneficial, but only when used correctly.
  • Businesses should take advantage of the enterprise-grade features of cloud communication software tools to empower employees to work effectively.
  • Besides, there is a need to implement solutions that consolidate communication without hiding vital conversations in private instant message.

5. The emphasis of work-life balance

Today, working late nights or long weeks to earn more is never a pre-eminence. The modern employees are now looking for better work-life balance and perks that positively impact their wellbeing. In fact, job seekers of today claim good work-life balance invariably sway their decisions when evaluating an organization[11].

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Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Salary and benefits: 58%

Salary and benefits

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Long-term job security: 46%

Long-term job security

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Pleasant work atmosphere: 45%

Pleasant work atmosphere

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Career Progression opportunity: 35%

Career Progression opportunity

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Financially healthy employer: 33%

Financially healthy employer

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Flexible working schedules: 31%

Flexible working schedules

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Good training: 28%

Good training

Factors that attract Employees to Potential Employer
Strong leadership: 26%

Strong leadership


Source: Randstad (2017)

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Factor in the extremely low unemployment rates and you have a volatile arena for businesses. The need to keep employees happy and satisfied has given the work-life balance trend the impetus to thrive. Businesses are in a rush to navigate strategies for flexible work schedules to reel in top talents and boost retention rates. Other things that are shaping this trend include remote work, compressed workweeks, onsite amenities.

Key Worklife Balance Trend Takeaways

  • Long-term job security and an attractive salary alone won’t retain top talents. Flexible work schedules will.
  • Organizations must prove to workers that employment is a shared value.
  • Businesses should provide more time for friends, hobbies, and self-care to their employees.

6. Investing in employee wellbeing

Over the last decade, mental health issues, burnouts, and stressed workers have become widespread. These problems crept in our workplaces because employees were so dedicated to working that they cared less about their wellbeing. However, recently, employee wellbeing has become a priority for both the employee and the employer.

More and more companies have put in place workplace wellness strategies to enhance employees’ health and wellbeing. For example, today, you’d not be surprised to find modern workplaces with onsite fitness centers, cafeterias, childcare, and medical care.

However, in line with improving employee wellbeing, a new feature is outranking all the onsite amenities. According to one study, North American employees now prefer offices with views of the outdoors and natural light[12]. The study found that natural lights and views boost employee happiness and well-being by 78%. Better still, they improve work satisfaction (73%), employee performance (70%), and commitment (54%).

Benefits of Natural Lights and Views in Workplaces

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Source: Workplace Trends

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A lot has to be done to improve employee wellbeing at their workplaces. For example, to address the loneliness of remote workers, businesses are investing in teambuilding events. Additionally, there is a notable uptick in the number of businesses offering training around areas like mental health and resilience. Top HR software are also integrating some of these to their newest features, such as the ability to track these events and include them in payroll.

As the competition for top talent hots up, we predict that employee wellbeing will make a huge difference in attracting employees.

Most Popular HR Software

  1. ClearCompany is at its core an applicant tracking system, which helps businesses find and screen candidates and onboard new talent.
  2. Workday combines human capital management, finance, payroll, and administrative solutions in one HR-centered package.
  3. When I Work is an HR and employee scheduling application that can be set up and used in any device, whether desktop or mobile.
  4. Freshteam is a member of the Freshworks family, designed as a compact package with HR features, including applicant tracking and recruitment CRM.
  5. Homebase is a scalable, cloud-based time tracking and employee scheduling platform that ensures working hours are met and employees are paid accurately.

Key Employee Wellbeing Trend Takeaways

  • The workplace environment has a direct impact on the mental wellbeing and physical health of employees.
  • Businesses should create workplace environments that boost employee wellbeing to improve overall business results.
  • As Gen Z becomes the bulk of the global workforce, businesses must evolve to meet their rapidly shifting wellness demands.

7. Focus on gender equality

Gender equality isn’t a new topic, but it has definitely refused to fade away. For years now, we’ve seen rigorous diversity campaigns geared towards ensuring more women hold top leadership positions. We are not there yet, but with companies and countries getting involved, change is on the horizon.

Allowing women to run businesses is not only morally upright but also beneficial. In fact, according to one study, with women at the helm businesses increase profit by up to 15%[13].  Increased profitability is just the tip of the iceberg. Letting women hold top positions brings a host of other benefits. Because of this, companies are all out to explore these benefits and the gender gap is closing by day.

The gender equality trend is gathering steam, and we anticipate companies will continue to assign women executive posts in the coming years. States are getting involved too. For example, California has created a rule that advocates for increased women representation on public company boards. [14]

workplace trends 3

Key Gender Equality Trend Takeaways

  • It’s time for companies to accelerate inclusion efforts to banish the gender gap.
  • Allowing women to be at the helm of the company’s operations can increase profit margins.

8. Social purpose becoming a priority

A lot of things are happening in the business world. The entry of younger workers, everchanging social-political climate, and increasing job-hopping rates, to name a few. With the landscape becoming increasingly turbulent, companies are finding it hard to attract top talent. This because employees are no longer hunting for companies with just a pretty image.

Today, job candidates want companies that show a true desire to uphold values and prioritize social responsibility. Companies that put corporate social responsibility into action stand out in the highly competitive arena. It’s no surprise then that many companies are creating social purposes via community service and partnering with like-minded organizations. Besides, we see companies incorporate philanthropic purposes in their overall mission.

Key Social Purpose Trend Takeaways

  • To successfully attract, hire, and retain a young workforce, companies should make social purpose a priority.
  • The younger generation (Millennials and Gen Z) are driving the social purpose trend.

9. Gig economy continues to rise

In the modern era, titles like self-employed and freelancers are becoming widespread thanks to changing working practices. Employees are ditching the 9-to-5 employment for more flexible working schedules, and the gig economy on a meteoric rise. In fact, the share of US employees in the gig economy increased from 10.1% (2010) to 15.8% (2015). [15]

Generally, the gig economy comprises three main components: the consumer looking for services, the gig worker, and the platform connecting the consumer to the worker. The gig economy arrangement is offering the benefits that the modern workforce craves. It allows them to set their work schedule, work while they travel, and have the freedom to choose the company they want.

The advances in technology have given rise to multiple online talent markets for freelance workers. As a result, gig workers now have unparalleled flexibility to decide their hours and location, often without compromising financial security. Consequently, there has been an influx of both consumers and workers into the gig economy. The growth of the gig economy is not letting up any soon; the global online marketplaces could be worth £43 billion by 2020. [16]

What does the growth of the gig economy mean to businesses? The gig economy provides access to a wide range of expertise through flexible and convenient platforms. This results in significant cost savings for SMBs that often don’t have the financial muscle to attract top talent.

workplace trends 4

Key Gig Economy Trend Takeaways

  • Businesses need to embrace the gig economy and implement the vital software for remote employee management to streamline remote working.
  • SMBs now have the opportunity to compete with larger organizations in attracting the best talent.
  • Subtle changes have taken place, and freelancing is no longer associated with creative work only. Nearly every sector of the economy has jobs generally offered in contracts.

10. Upskilling taking the front row

Everything about the global workforce is changing. Employees have become mobile more than ever before, employment is high, and the number of open jobs is skyrocketing. Combined, these factors have made it difficult for businesses to retain the best talent. As a result, more and more companies are hatching innovative hiring and retention strategies.

Upskilling and training have emerged as top of the agenda for business. This comes after the realization that the desire to learn and upskill impels today’s employees to stick by or leave their current role. There is no doubt training and upskilling nurture top talent and help maintain high-performance teams. In addition, training spurs personal development and plays a fundamental role in retaining top talent.

Key Upskilling and Training Trend Takeaways

  • To retain top talent, organizations should prioritize upskilling and top talent.
  • Training and upskilling help build high-performance teams.

11. Robots + humans in the workplace

When robots first made their way to the workplace, there was displeasure amongst employees. The global workforce presumed that this innovative idea was hatched to take up their jobs, but that has not been the case. Instead, the evolution of AI and machine learning has enabled employees to coexist with robots harmoniously.

Today, robots can be automated to handle mundane tasks in and out of the modern workplace. This frees up precious time for employees, allowing them to focus on emotional jobs and be more productive. Employees are getting incrementally used to the presence of robots in their workplaces, either knowingly or unknowingly.

If you think robots are going away any soon, think again. According to Tractica, the use of virtual digital assistants will become a familiar sight in the workplace. In fact, nearly 1 billion users will rely on AI-powered virtual assistants for by 2025[17].

There are conflicting reports about the net effect of these technologies on the labor market. However, there is a consensus that AI and machine learning bridge skills gap, facilitate faster decisions, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs. Companies have realized that AI and machine learning deliver greater benefits than drawbacks. As a result, companies are increasingly adding AI, and the speed of this trend is not letting up any soon.

workplace trends 5

Key Robots + Human Trend Takeaway

  • Robots are here to stay, and as technology improves will see them flooding our workplaces.
  • AI and machine learning don’t entirely replace human workers. Instead, these innovations close the skill gap and improve employee productivity.

12. Focus on soft skills

While it’s easy to project the future of the workplace, no one has the crystal ball to pinpoint what lies ahead. With digital transformation on high gear, one thing is certain: change will remain constant. In fact, we’ve seen job roles transform into something completely different while others disappeared completely. However, the focus has been on hard skills, but that is now changing and fast.

With technology taking center stage in workplace transformation, we predict the focus will shift to soft skills. Soft skills like analytical skills, written and verbal communication, and leadership, are important for both employees and employers.

These skills are difficult to quantify, but they play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. Soft skills are key to gaining visibility, building relationships, and creating opportunities for advancement. Simply put, soft skills help facilitate human connection which is needed for high-performance teams. And this is the reason the soft skill trend is gathering pace.

Key Soft Skills Trend Takeaway

  • Having soft skills firmly under your belt opens up multiple opportunities for career success.
  • Besides, soft skills play a critical role in promoting a prosperous workforce transition.
  • Businesses should take new approaches to impart proper knowledge of the most important soft skills.

What do these trends mean to businesses?

Each year businesses face new ideas and trends that disrupt the way they operate and conduct activities. Nearly, every aspect of businesses is prone to some changes, and the workplace is no exception. This is the reason why we highlighted the key workplace trends to help you stay on top of what employees value and even societal changes.

The nature of work is constantly changing, multiple generations are collaborating in the modern workforce, and the software we use is evolving by the day. Employee perception about the perfect employer is shifting, and employers are proactively prioritizing upskilling and training.

All these trends lean towards the evolving employee landscape and embrace the fine lines between employee’s personal and professional lives. Whether you are getting started in business or are a long-time business owner, you need to watch how these trends will evolve in the coming years.

The onus is on both the employee and the employer. Employees should be self educators and advocates to meet rapidly changing work demands. On the other hand, as an employer, you should continuously expand your skillsets and remain open-minded to new employees’ demands and experiences. Besides, you should implement the best solutions like employee monitoring software to remain competitive in 2019 and beyond.



  1. ^The Total Financial Impact of Employee Absences
  2. ^Creating a Compelling Employment Value Proposition
  3. ^Engaging the Workforce of the Future
  4. ^State of Remote Work 2018 Report: What It’s Like to be a Remote Worker in 2018
  5. ^Future Workforce Report
  6. ^The Corporate Culture Study
  7. ^A New Zealand company tried a four-day work week. It was a ‘resounding success’
  8. ^eBay Invites Some Customer Service Employees to Work From Home
  9. ^Shining Monday: How Japan is trying to make start of working week more palatable
  10. ^Can We Chat? Instant Messaging Apps Invade the Workplace
  11. ^Randstad Employer Brand Research 2017
  12. ^The Employee Experience Study
  13. ^Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey
  14. ^California Mandates Female Representation On Public Company Boards
  15. ^The Future of Work – The Rise of the Gig Economy
  16. ^Is the ‘gig economy’ turning us all into freelancers?
  17. ^AI Assistants to Lend 1 Billion Users a Virtual Hand by 2025


Louie Andre

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. From pitch deck to exit strategy, he is no stranger to project business hiccups and essentials. He has been involved in a few internet startups including a digital route planner for a triple A affiliate. His advice to vendors and users alike? "Think of benefits, not features."

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